All posts by Paul Tchir

Günther Haase and Daniel Dagallier

Today on Oldest Olympians we have two milestone birthdays, so it is time for another blog post to cover them both in lieu of choosing between them!

First, we wanted to wish Günther Haase a happy 99th birthday! Haase represented his country at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, where he won a bronze medal in platform diving. Two years earlier, he had won that event at the 1950 European Championships, and in total he collected eight national titles between 1943 and 1956. He later moved to the United States with his wife, also a German national champion in diving, and now resides in Florida as the oldest living German Olympic medalist.

Second, French fencer Daniel Dagallier is turning 98 today! In addition to his team bronze medal from the 1956 Summer Olympics, Dagallier won five team medals – one gold and two each of silver and bronze – in the event at the World Championships between 1951 and 1958, and also took gold at the 1955 Mediterranean Games. He is now the oldest living Olympic fencing medalist.

Růžena Košťálová

Due to emergency circumstances, Oldest Olympians was unable to post yesterday, and thus today we wanted to provide two posts in a single blog entry.

First, Oldest Olympians is saddened to learn that Czech canoeist Růžena Košťálová, born February 21, 1924, died April 12 at the age of 100. Košťálová was one half of the silver medal-winning Czechoslovakian team in the Kayak Doubles, 500 metres event at the 1948 World Championships and represented the country at that year’s Olympic Games in the Kayak Singles, 500 metres. Although she won her heat in the opening round, she finished fifth in the final. Having already won 12 national titles in the sport, she retired from active competition shortly thereafter and eventually moved to Switzerland with her family in 1968.

(Jindřich Mikulec)

At the time of her death, Košťálová was the oldest living Olympian to have represented Czechoslovakia and the oldest living Olympic canoeist. The first distinction now goes to gymnast Jindřich Mikulec, born May 11, 1928. Mikulec represented his country in the tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he was seventh in the team all-around and had a best individual finish of joint-24th in the floor exercise. Luxembourg’s Léon Roth, meanwhile, born September 10, 1926, is now the oldest living Olympic canoeist. Roth represented his country in two events at the Helsinki Olympics, where he placed 17th in the K-1 10,000 and was eliminated in round one of the K-2 1000.

(Eric Nillson)

Secondly, today we were planning to feature Swedish track athlete Eric Nilsson, born December 26, 1926, who recently turned 97. Nilsson represented his country in the 3,000 metres steeplechase at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, but was eliminated in round one. He now resides in Arbrå.

Miguel Seijas and Chiharu Igaya

Today on Oldest Olympians we have two milestone birthdays, so we are continuing our trend of covering both in a single blog post rather than choosing between them!

First, we want to wish a happy 94th birthday to Miguel Seijas, the oldest living Olympic medalist from Uruguay! Seijas represented his country in the double sculls at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Games, winning bronze in the former and being eliminated in the round one repêchage in the latter.

Second, Chiharu Igaya is turning 93 as Japan’s oldest Olympic medalist! Igaya represented his country in nine alpine skiing events across three editions of the Games – 1952, 1956, and 1960 – and won a silver medal in the slalom in 1956. He also took bronze at the World Championships in that event in 1958. By career he worked in insurance, but also served in sport administration, most notably as a member of the IOC since 1982.

Centenarian Bill Brown

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to provide an update on an Olympian that had been listed as William C. “Bill” Brown. Brown had been identified as the track athlete who represented Great Britain in the 3,500 metres race walk at the 1908 London Olympics and was eliminated in round one. He was of note to Oldest Olympians because he was born December 7, 1878 and died August 25, 1980, which made him 101 years, 262 days old.

(Bernard Brown)

Thanks to research by Rob Gilmore, we now know that while Bill Brown did reach the age of 101 and was at one time a member of the Surrey Walking Club, he was not the individual who competed at the Games. That person, also from the Surrey Walking Club, was actually Bernard Clayton Brown, born January 8, 1878 and died March 22, 1935. Brown worked as a post office employee and was a successful rower before taking up race walking. He continued competing into his 50s.

Thus, while both Bernard and Bill had notable walking careers, only Bernard was an Olympian and only Bill was a centenarian. Thus, we have had to removed this competitor from our list of centenarians several years after having added him.

1948 Olympic Mysteries From Argentina

Today Oldest Olympians is resuming its look into mystery competitors from the 1948 London Olympics for whom we lack both a date of birth and confirmation as to whether they are alive or deceased. Given the time that has passed, nearly all of these Olympians would be at least 90 years old, but there is a possibility that some are still alive. Today we wanted to look at three Argentinians who meet the criteria.

The first is Manuel Fernández, who was a member of his country’s coxed eights rowing squad at the London Games. After failing to qualify in their round one heat, the Argentinians entered the round one repêchage, where they were eliminated from the competition. We know that the rest of his team is deceased, but they had a wide range of ages, leaving open the possibility that he is still alive. With his common name, however, we have been unable to uncover more information about him, aside from the fact that he was from Rosario.

Next is Ángel Carrasco, who represented Argentina in Star class sailing alongside Jorge Piacentini. In that event they finished 16th out of the 17 entrants. This is all that we know about him and, since sailors can also have a wide range of ages, we have been unable to ascertain whether or not he is still alive.

Finally we have Jorge Soler, who took part in the gymnastics tournament, where he was 15th in the team all-around and had a best individual finish of 101st in the horse vault. He had much more success at the Pan American Games, winning seven medals, four gold and three silver, at the 1951 edition. It is possible that he was Jorge Sebastian Soler, born on October 11 in either 1921 or 1924 and died June 15, 1992, but we have been unable to confirm this.

Domini Lawrence and Mariya Shubina

Today on Oldest Olympians we have two milestone birthdays, so it is once again time to cover both in a single blog post rather than choosing between them!

First, British equestrian Domini Lawrence is turning 99 today! Lawrence represented Great Britain in two Olympic dressage tournaments: in 1968 she was fifth with the team and 11th individually, while in 1972 she was 10th with the team and 33rd individually. She later became a distinguished judge with the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, serving until her retirement in 1998. She is now the oldest living British Olympian, as well as the oldest living person to have competed at the 1972 Munich Games.

Second, Soviet canoeist Mariya Shubina is turning 94 today! Shubina represented the Soviet Union in the K-2 500 at the 1960 Rome Games, where she won the gold medal. She also captured six medals at the Worlds – four of them gold – and four at the Europeans – three of them gold – across various disciplines, and was a ten-time national champion. By career she studied medicine and biology, earning a PhD in 1975, and she is now the oldest living Olympic canoeing champion.

Joseph Reynders

Oldest Olympians is saddened to learn that that Belgian swimmer and water polo player Joseph Reynders, born December 16, 1929, died April 12 at the age of 94. Reynders represented his country in the 1500 metres freestyle event at the 1948 London Games, where he was eliminated in round one. He also represented Belgium at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, this time in the water polo tournament, where his nation placed sixth overall. Reynders had also competed in the 1500 metres freestyle at the 1947 European Championships, where he set a national record. By career, he ran an autobody shop in in Antwerp.

We wanted to make this announcement in a blog post so that we could highlight his brother, Kamiel, who is also among the oldest Olympians, having been born February 22, 1931. Kamiel represented Belgium as a member of the 4×200 metres freestyle relay swimming event at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where his country was 17th and last overall. Although we know little else about him, he was still alive in 2023 according to his family.

Finally, we wanted to provide an update on one of the Olympians that we noted on our list of Olympians who were last known alive in 2013: German track athlete Franz Happernagl, born December 25, 1929. Thanks to personal contact with a member of the OlyMADMen, we can now confirm that Happernagl is still alive as of 2024.

Poul Svendsen and Cees Gravesteijn

Today on Oldest Olympians we have two milestone birthdays, so, yet again, rather than choose between them, we have decided to cover both in a single blog post!

(Poul Svendsen, pictured at Sjællandske Medier)

The first is Poul Svendsen, the oldest living Olympic rowing medalist, who is turning 97 today! Svendsen represented Denmark in the coxed pairs event at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he won a bronze medal alongside Svend Pedersen and Jørgen Frantzen. A member of the Frederiksværk Roklub, he is now the last surviving member of his bronze medal-winning crew.

The second is Cees Gravesteijn, the oldest living Dutch Olympian, who is turning 96 today! Gravesteijn represented his country in the K-2 1000 canoeing event at the 1948 London Games, where he placed sixth alongside his teammate Wim Pool. He was a member of Kanovereniging De Zwetplassers.

We also have one update that we wanted to share. Earlier this month we noted the death of American Larry Damon and mentioned that he had been the only living Olympic biathlete over the age of 90. Since then, we have learned that Mauno Luukkonen, born April 14, 1934, who represented Finland in the 20 kilometers event at the 1968 Grenoble Games, is still alive and turned 90, thus giving us another Olympic biathlete on our lists!

Emam Ali Habibi and Ben Campbell

Today on Oldest Olympians we have two milestone birthdays, so, once again, rather than choose between them, we have decided to cover both in a single blog post!

The first is Emam Ali Habibi, the oldest living Iranian and wrestling Olympic champion, who is turning 93 today! Habibi represented his country in the lightweight, freestyle wrestling division at the 1956 Melbourne Games, where he won a surprise gold medal. He then switched to welterweight, winning titles at the 1958 Asian Games and the World Championships from 1959 through 1962, with his only major loss coming at the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he was eliminated in round five. He was later a member of Iran’s parliament and had a brief career in film.

The second is Ben Campbell, the oldest living Olympic judoka, who turns 91 today! Campbell represented the United States in the open class event at the 1964 Tokyo Games, where he placed sixth. He had been a gold medalist in that category at the 1963 Pan American Games and was a three-time national champion. He later turned to politics and served in the United States Senate from 1993 through 2005.

Bakir Ben Aissa and Garry Hoyt

Today on Oldest Olympians we have two milestone birthdays, so rather than choose between them, we have again decided to cover both in a single blog post!

The first is Bakir Ben Aissa, the oldest living Moroccan Olympian, who is turning 92 today! Ben Aissa represented his country at two editions of the Olympic marathon, placing eighth and twelfth in 1960 and 1964 respectively. He won that event at the 1959 and 1963 Mediterranean Games and took gold in the 10,000 metres and silver in the 5,000 metres at the 1957 Pan-Arab Games. Originally a representative of France, he joined the Moroccan national team a few years after independence and did not retire from active competition until 1968. He is, however, among the Olympians who may be removed from our lists at the end of the year, as a French article from 2013 is the last evidence we have of his being alive.

(Garry Hoyt, pictured at The Inquirer and Mirror)

The second is Garry Hoyt, the oldest living Olympian to have represented Puerto Rico, who is also turning 92 today! Hoyt represented his country in three editions of the Olympic sailing tournament, beginning in 1968 when he was 10th in the Finn class. He then teamed up with Hovey Freeman to take part in the Tempest class in 1972 and 1976, placing 16th and 15th respectively. He had better luck in the Snipe class at the 1966 Central American and Caribbean Games, where he won the gold medal. By career, he was an advertising executive, businessman, and author on the topic of sailing.